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"But we took you to Stately Homes" - survivors of dysfunctional and toxic families

(754 Posts)
pocketsaviour Thu 06-Oct-16 13:13:08

It's October 2016, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
March 2011
November 2011
January 2012
November 2012
January 2013
March 2013
August 2013
December 2013
February 2014
April 2014
July 2014
Oct 14 – Dec 14
Dec 14 – March 15
March 2015 - Nov 2015
Nov 2015 - Feb 2016
Feb 2016 - Oct 2016

Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here (December 2007)

So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.

The title refers to an original poster's family who claimed they could not have been abusive as they had taken her to plenty of Stately Homes during her childhood!

One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/ siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/ angry/ hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/ lifetime experiences of being hurt/ angry etc by our parents behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotionally abused and/ or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn't have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing up, how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/ or current parental contact, has left you feeling damaged, falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth.

You might also find the following links and information useful, if you have come this far and are still not sure whether you belong here or not.

'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward.

I started with this book and found it really useful.

Here are some excerpts:

"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect your feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defences that they have always used, only more so.

Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.

Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:

"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety, will undoubtedly use it during confrontation, to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.

YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".

"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behaviour. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof, the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offences against them.

YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me, when I was a child".

"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me, to make a better relationship."

"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties, without invalidating your own.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"

"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behaviour. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get" or "nothing was ever enough for you."

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ...."

"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realise that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller
Personality Disorders definition
Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
Pete Walker

Some books:

Toxic Parents by Susan Forward
Homecoming by John Bradshaw
Will I ever be good enough? by Karyl McBride
If you had controlling parents by Dan Neuharth
When you and your mother can't be friends by Victoria Segunda
Children of the self-absorbed by Nina Brown - check reviews on this, I didn't find it useful myself.
Recovery of your inner child by Lucia Capacchione

This final quote is from smithfield posting as therealsmithfield:

"I'm sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out. I personally don't claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will receive a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support."

pocketsaviour Thu 06-Oct-16 13:15:07

Welcome to your new thread, Stately Homers smile

I had the code saved from last time so wanted to pop up a new thread for all. I haven't been active lately as have been trying to concentrate on the present and future instead of going over the past. I feel like I have moved forward a long way from there.

Still NC with narcissistic mum for 18 months and abuser dad for near on 30 years.

Love and light to all flowers

fc301 Thu 06-Oct-16 14:07:08

New to this thread (recommended by another MNer) so will read back.
Yesterday I blocked both my parents on my phone. I feel good about this. DH had asked them to make no contact for 6 months at least but the drip of pressure continues. (They need me to rock up at a milestone birthday so they don't have to explain that I'm not there because they had treated me abominably - good luck with that).
Luck love strength power to all xx

Stilltryingtobeme Thu 06-Oct-16 20:52:34

Well done FC! I felt nothing but free when I did that to my mum. I understand she likes to talk about her selfish daughter who won't talk to her but I couldn't care less (dad died when I was little, mum alcoholic and married a man who abused me and she stayed with him despite this). It's such a freeing feeling!

Question for those of you with children. How do you explain things? My son is 4 and has been asking where my mummy is as he knows my dad died. I've said I don't know and that she is very nasty so we have to stay away.

I sometimes wonder if deep down she realises what she's missing but I won't return to my abusers.

fc301 Thu 06-Oct-16 20:59:38

Eldest 2 heard it all so frankly don't want any more nastiness. My youngest I said we are not going to see them anymore as they 'can't be nice'. She wanted to know if I would ever do that to her (a million times no) & hasn't mentioned it since.

fc301 Thu 06-Oct-16 21:00:23

I ponder what they say to people but also I don't care.

Blodplod Thu 06-Oct-16 21:07:15

Christ.... You've all said all I needed to say... Totally up to my gullet with the toxic narcissistic mother and reading this a place mark for a major read off tomorrow... Oh to realise I'm not alone....

Stilltryingtobeme Thu 06-Oct-16 21:15:19

Yeah, how do you explain to a four year old that some mummies aren't nice? Thankfully he's not joined the dots yet!

Not alone blod, never alone here!

fc301 Thu 06-Oct-16 21:15:51

I was about to type 'it wasn't that bad' when I had to remind myself I had an eating disorder at 6, the only way to have any control. I am 4'9" ...

fc301 Thu 06-Oct-16 21:16:28

Not only are you not alone but I am glad that you are here x

Dobbyandme Fri 07-Oct-16 11:03:15

What a brilliant thread. I don't think anyone with abusive parents initially how widespread an issue it is. Despite the fact that it sucks that there is cause for a thread such as this, it's nice to find one and to feel less 'alone'.

I'm new to this thread and have been NC with my parents for 13 months. Mum was always emotionally abusive ever since I can remember and this has never changed, nor do I think she realises the extent to which her behaviour damaged me, even convincing me somehow that being raped at 16 was my own fault. Father was also emotionally abusive for most of my life, extremely controlling, and physically abusive on several occasions.

Though I feel more free than I ever have, I still find it painful to think about them and the parents they should have been.

My DD was a few weeks when I went NC. I do wonder how I'll respond when she asks me one day, but for now that's not an issue and I have time to consider what my response will be.

My biggest concern is keeping my own behaviour in check. As a result of my upbringing I have suffered with MH issues. Whenever I see in the media the "abused becomes abuser" type stories my blood runs cold with fear that I might somehow end up the same way. I would never physically hurt my children, but I worry that I may unintentionally cause emotional harm simply because it's all I know.

I know of course that I've taken the biggest steps by recognising my parents' behaviour (and that this in turn will help me identify any future similarities in my own behaviour).

Once you have suffered any form of abuse is the journey to complete recovery a lifelong as it seems to be?

x

SleepyHay Fri 07-Oct-16 11:44:39

Hi all. Happy to have found this thread a while ago and have read through some of the posts and really awful treatment some people have had.
I think it's such a taboo in RL, unless your parents were so abusive that you were removed and put into care it most people assume that you are the one with the problem.
My own M is almost certainly a narcissist and my F just accepts it. I'm quite LC now but hopefully will have the strength to remove her completely from my life one day. What bothers me most about going NC, apart from the inevitable drama, is that I don't know how I'll explain it to other people. I think that growing up with constant emotional abuse means that sometimes you can't quite describe why you feel the way you do as what they say and do seems 'normal'.
Not really sure where I'm going with this, I guess it's just nice not to be judged for not being close to my bitter twisted mother and not having to explain that I have no intention of just putting up with the way she is just because she gave birth to me.
Anyway flowers to all x

fc301 Fri 07-Oct-16 18:24:48

Dobbyandme you will of course do everything you can not to be like them, I entirely sympathise. I have a 14 year old and can honestly say I am a much better parent now I've gone NC with mine.
Amazing how unhappy they can make you.

Hissy Sat 08-Oct-16 01:01:21

Just putting this here, cos there's nobody to talk to irl and it's too "aw Hun" for FB

Watching London River about a mother searching for her Ds post the 7/7 bombings

When she heard about the bombs she rang and rang her Dd number

My mother was on holiday in Canada. I didn't hear from her at all.

I texted her H phone, but she/they never replied.

I needed to speak to my sis, and she needed to speak to me, both of us near bombs, both in London. we rang each other, but there was no call or anything from dm.

It still hurts to learn that you weren't worried about.

I know I'd want to speak to DS. I love him.

fc301 Sat 08-Oct-16 08:24:08

How awful Hissy,
For me the point of no return was when I knew for sure that I did not matter (or being charitable I didn't matter enough) to my mother. This was devastating for me but also in that moment I knew I wasn't imagining /overdramatising/ being unreasonable. EVERY child deserves to matter yo their parents xx

Hissy Sat 08-Oct-16 10:13:06

It just keeps hurting. I just wish they were dead, then I'd be free.

I'm probably wrong about that too sad

SleepyHay Sat 08-Oct-16 12:57:40

Hissy the pain of knowing that they don't really give a crap is the hardest thing. I don't think my own M is capable of thinking about anyone apart from herself. The only time I hear from her now is when she needs to tell other people how I am. She puts on a pretence to everyone that we have a really good relationship. Truth is that I can go months without speaking to her, she's not even that bothered about my DD.
I sometimes wonder how I'll feel when she dies, it won't be any loss to my life. I don't get anything from her in terms of help, support and I no longer expect anything. I think, like you, I'll fineally feel free knowing I won't ever hear from her again.
Know that her rejection is her issue and not yours. You can't change them, only your reaction to them being crap x

awana Sat 08-Oct-16 13:53:53

My mum is a crazy, spiteful narcissist. I have gone through the worst with her and been able to disengage (thanks to threads like this). However, she has plumbed new depths recently in reneging on her offer to help financially with DS, saying that she needs the money to put my DD in a home as he is getting worse with dementia and heart problems. What I have found out is that she has recently helped my 'golden child' sister to buy a new house (just for her and BIL!!) near them.

In contrast, she is encouraging me to move away, as a disabled scapegoat who won't listen to her is obviously not who she wants near. I no longer care about the money, but I am worried for my Dad. Soooo...should I run away from this mess and move elsewhere to give my son a better future, and leave them to their own devices, or stay close because of my dad? If it wasn't for him I would have no problem going. She says that she wants to put him in a home, but when I offered to look after him, she said that it would be terrible to move him away from his family home (WTF?).

It's not like it would be miles away as we'd all be in London still, but as I have mobility problems I can't just pop round to see them, or they can't come over. If it wasn't for my dad I wouldn't even consider living near her, but I do worry that he will suffer the same neglect that I have suffered in her hands. I see signs of it already.

Or..is she just spouting more rubbish and trying to mind trick me again? (Have I just answered my own question!) In any case WWYD?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 08-Oct-16 14:30:27

awana

Women like your mother always but always need a willing enabler to help them and that role was played by your dad.

Never borrow or accept any money from your mother; that was never going to be given to you anyway without strings attached. It would have simply been used by her as a further stick to beat you with.

He made his choice when it came to his wife and he chose her for his own reasons. He has acted weak throughout your life (some men also need a woman like this to idolise) and has really been her hatchet man. He sacrificed your wellbeing on her altar and has acted too out of self preservation and want of a quiet life.

I would move away from all of them and leave no forwarding address; your son and you deserve a better future. Its not possible anyway to have any sort of a relationship with a narcissist as you have all too clearly seen.

fc301 Sat 08-Oct-16 16:04:22

I believe the accepted wisdom when dealing with narcissists is run screaming from them as if your hair is on fire...

awana Sat 08-Oct-16 16:37:26

hahaha, yes I know, I just feel so conflicted about it.
I don't think my dad is a bad person, just married someone who is. A lot, if not all of the stuff she does is covert. She's good at enraging others about 'my behaviour' then standing by whilst family members, violent ex partners, social services etc give me a beating verbally and physically. My dad, bless him is totally naive and gullible to boot. She's lied to him for years and got away with it...

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 08-Oct-16 16:50:59

awana

Your dad married his wife for his own reasons but he has failed completely in protecting you from her excesses of bad behaviour. He has been her willing enabler here.

There is really no justification or excuse for his actions, he has failed you as well as your mother. As mentioned previously as well, such weak men often need someone to idolise and that is probably what he has done here as well.

You would be far better off walking away from all of them, they have shown you no regard whatsoever.

Stilltryingtobeme Sat 08-Oct-16 18:12:04

I'm with everyone else, walk away. Or run, as fast as you can. If you stay you continue to enable her to abuse you and your dad is at fault for failing to protect you. My dad died but I'll give him credit. I had no idea about my mum until he wasn't about. He protected me (although wish he'd married someone else, but then I wouldn't be here so....).

Anyway, what kind of relationship are you modelling for your son? If you continue to see your mum be sure to keep him away.

poppetiwasbackthen Sat 08-Oct-16 18:53:56

i was sexually abused from as early as I can remember. Aged 9, my father abused me in my parents bed. My mother was downstairs, making breakfast. He attempted to rape me. I find it hard to write the words. I have been speaking to a charity and they are advising me on how to proceed with reporting this to the police,.
Self harmed from an early age. I would hide the bruises from my mother.. How did I know I wasn't supposed to let her know what was going on? It was an unspoken agreement that this was to remain our secret.
Always felt so alone. Different. Misunderstood. I had a breakdown aged 30 and was advised by my psychiatrist to finally tell my mother what had happened when I was a child. I told her. She reacted emotionally at the time. This was 7 years ago . Her initial response was 'It couldn't have happened, I never left you alone with him.' She did believe me in the end, I think, but has never spoken of it again. This thread is helpful. If my case goes to court I may lose my family.
We were middle class, privately educated, My father was in tv/advertising.
These things don't happen to people like us. It all must be swept nicely under the carpet.

awana Sat 08-Oct-16 21:14:13

Thanks Attila and Stilltryingtobe me, you're right, esp about my son seeing this. I guess in my heart I know it's right too, and if anything your advice reconfirms what I thought.

poppetiwasbackthen - so so sad for you. No child should have to go through that. We're very middle class, privately school educated too. Noone would believe my mum unless they saw her with their own eyes.All of it has been swept under the carpet as well. Wishing you all the best x

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